Maldon & Tiptree 1 Ware 1
Ware battle the wind and Maldon to become the last team to register a draw in this season's North division.
In light of their two previous results and the growing list of injuries, Ware approached this match against a club on the fringes of the play-offs, with a degree of trepidation. As a result a battling draw was something of a success although there were moments when it seemed that it might have been more.
The absence of Rheo Josephs and Ahmed Abdulla who both took knocks in midweek brought the list of walking wounded to six with Ware left to draft in under-23 players and Necati Gench from Enfield's under-18 side. In such circumstances the point was excellent though the strong wind blowing all afternoon made things difficult for both sets of players and acted as something of a leveller.
Of those drafted in Gench had a good game and might have scored when Murat Karagul lobbed Dominic Kurasik on 68 minutes with the young man just unable to reach it before it was cleared. Maybe that was the reason why, having worked hard to impress throughout the whole game, he was substituted a few minutes later. As he admitted afterwards, playing an under-18 game on Monday was no preparation for the extra demands of the Isthmian League on Saturday.
Meanwhile Josh Dobson returned to the side from injury for his first start after just one appearance from the bench against Witham in September. He put in a good stint at left back suggesting that he deserves to retain his place.
The other full back was Dean Mason who also had a good game but on 56 minutes was turned and outpaced by the home side's Junior Ogedi-Uzokwe who has attracted the interest of both Colchester United and West Bromwich Albion. As he tried to make amends Mason brought the Maldon number nine down in the area.
Ogedi-Uzokwe got up and put the spot kick away despite Tom Coulton getting his hand to it and brought his side level after Ware had taken the lead just four minutes earlier. That one came from the trusted foot of Yannick Kamanan. Alaa Oujdi, released once again for a midfield role, this time by Dobson's inclusion at left back, laid the ball off to Karagul whose cross found Kamanan. As so often this season Ware's top scorer was able to turn and fire a low shot past Kurasik for the lead.
With the wind such a dominating factor in this game the first half had seen Ware having to defend for much of the time. Denzel Conteh was at his best in this period as he supplied the bite in midfield that hasn't always been seen this season. His play stifled much of the home side's efforts but with the wind at their back in the second half Ware spent more time going forward themselves and Conteh was substituted.
The game was three minutes away from the end of normal time when Oujdi and Karagul combined to provide an opening for Junior Appiah. Somehow Ware's number seven fired over from close range and the game ended with the points shared. However, avoiding a third successive defeat was enough of a triumph in itself and whilst the injury list is unlikely to be shorter come Tuesday's game with Bowers & Pitsea the boost to morale should serve Ware well.
Ware: Tom Coulton, Dean Mason, Josh Dobson, Denzel Conteh (Ahmed Mohammed 62mins), Gareth Madden, Lee White, Junior Appiah, Alaa Oujdi, Murat Karagul, Yannick Kamanan, Necati Gench (Warren Kayembe 72mins). Unused subs: Gus Douglas, Symeon Taylor, Jahvanne Wilson.